The Breadwinner

The Breadwinner Literary Elements


Young Adult Fiction

Setting and Context

The novel is set in Kabul, Afghanistan, after the Taliban has taken over the city and imposed oppressive laws limiting freedoms, particularly those of women.

Narrator and Point of View

The book is narrated from a third-person limited omniscient perspective that stays close to the protagonist Parvana's point of view.

Tone and Mood

The tone is lamenting and nostalgic; the mood is often one of danger and anxiety, though there are moments of hope.

Protagonist and Antagonist

Parvana is the protagonist; the antagonists include the Taliban and Parvana's older sister.

Major Conflict

The novel's major conflict is that Parvana must disguise herself as a boy to make money to support her mother, older sister, and two younger siblings; Parvana is always under threat from the Taliban, who decree that women and girls must stay home.


The book reaches its climax when Parvana learns that the Taliban have taken over Mazar, leaving the fate of her mother and siblings unknown.




Parvana's father alludes to the story of Malali, a young Afghan girl who in 1880 inspired Afghan troops to fight off the British invaders who outnumbered them. Parvana's father says that Malali's courage lives on in all Afghan women.




Metonymy and Synecdoche